Sunday, December 04, 2022

In Nigeria, UN chief welcomes reunification of extremists

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria ( Associated Press) – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday hailed Nigerian officials’ ongoing reunification of defectors from the jihadist Boko Haram group that has waged a decades-long insurgency, saying “the best thing we can do is to have peace.” can for”.

Speaking to reporters in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, where the insurgency is concentrated, Guterres also called for more global funding to help rebuild life in northeastern Nigeria, where the rebels are operating.

“The best thing we can do for peace is to reunite those who became terrorists in times of despair but now for the betterment of their brothers and sisters,” the UN chief said after meeting with former militants. want to contribute.” At a rehabilitation camp in Maiduguri.

The Nigerian military said in March that 1,629 of the former fighters had so far graduated from the reunification program.

In the final leg of his three-nation tour of West Africa, the UN chief is visiting Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria for the first time, where he called on donors around the world to support humanitarian aid in the Northeast .

Nigeria’s indigenous Islamic extremist rebels, Boko Haram, launched an insurgency in 2009 to fight against Western education and establish Islamic Sharia law in Nigeria.

Their rebellion spread over the years to the neighboring West African countries of Cameroon, Niger and Chad. Boko Haram drew international condemnation in 2014 when it kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in the village of Chibok, more than 100 of whom are still missing.

Ahead of his visit to Nigeria, Guterres was in Niger on Monday, where he expressed strong concern over jihadist violence in the Sahel, a vast semi-arid region south of the Sahara desert. “The international community must realize that this is no longer just a regional or African issue, but a global threat,” he said.

In Nigeria, Guterres visited a camp for people displaced by violence.

“The people I met today want to go back home,” he said. But before they return, he said, the authorities should impose prerequisites – “security conditions, development conditions.”

Data from UN agencies in Nigeria shows that jihadist violence has directly resulted in nearly 35,000 deaths and the displacement of at least 2.1 million people.

“I will be your advocate for the support and hope from the international community to invest in Borno,” Guterres told Borno state governor Bbagana Zulum.

Amid an effort to bring displaced people back to the homes they fled years ago, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said on Sunday that the war against terrorists is “coming to its conclusion.”

But according to the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, the jihadist group – especially its most prominent faction the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) – is “tightening its grip on new rural areas in Nigeria’s central and southern Borno state. ..”

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